In Exodus 36, something unusual happens—at least by today’s standards. Moses sends word throughout the Israelite camp for people to stop giving. Why? Because what they had already given was more than enough.
Wow! Can you even imagine saying to the congregation, “Guys, please do not give anything else to the building fund. We already have more than we need for the project.”
It’s a far cry from what’s happening at most churches in America today. Leaders are left to wonder why giving doesn’t go up—or stay up—even after a great sermon on stewardship. Sometimes it seems like the money just isn’t there.
But American churchgoers brought home an estimated $5.2 trillion in 2008, with $850 billion of that being disposable income. What if those members had tithed just on their disposable income? That would have put $85 billion into America’s collection plates. Imagine what the church could do with $85 billion!
For starters, we could keep almost two-thirds of the starving children in the world from dying, provide all children with a basic primary education, and deliver the gospel to the 1.9 billion unreached people around the world. Empty Tomb estimates that those three could be accomplished for a combined total of only $13 billion. We could do all that and still have $72 billion left over for more good work—every year!
The Reality and the Root
Unfortunately, American church members currently give only 2.55% of their available incomes to their churches on average. Only 9% of those claiming to be “born-again” Christians tithe. Fewer than 4% of U.S. seminaries and 2% of Christian colleges even teach biblical financial principles, let alone tithing, to their ministry students. Not coincidentally, money-management skills have been continually dwindling.
Christians are not immune to runaway debt. Thirty-three percent of believers say they can’t get ahead because of debt, and financial confict is the number-one cause of divorce for Christian couples.
But significant financial pressure doesn’t stop most people from overspending. The average American spends $1.26 for every $1.00 earned.
The money is there. And while it may seem like people just don’t want to give, the stats make it clear that they simply don’t know how to wisely manage what they have. If we help our church goers learn to manage money well, they will be able to give freely and generously—strengthening the financial state of the church.
There are over 800 Scriptures that apply to personal finance! Dave Ramsey’s Momentum provides church leaders with the tools to teach the congregation to manage money based on these biblical principles. When people begin to understand that God really owns it all and they are in essence an “asset manager” for Him, it changes the way they handle their resources.
The bottom line is that when the peoples’ finances get healthy, the church’s will follow. If you’re serious about providing financial discipleship for the families in your church, Dave Ramsey’s ChurchWide program is the most comprehensive churchwide stewardship training available.
Find out more about ChurchWide or apply to attend an upcoming workshop at Dave Ramsey’s office.